What She Left - an old friend makes a thriller from a tweet

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

What She Left by TR Richmond: CatChat Edition

Very long term readers of this blog will be familiar with the name Tim Relf. Mr Relf is a journalist on that fine organ Farmers Weekly, and the point blogger on Field Day, a rural life blog referred to on here more than once as “Cat Chat”, a nickname stolen from Matthew Naylor, back when he was blogging.

I suspect Mr Relf is about to be known for a lot more than just Cat Chat and recipes from a farmhouse kitchen. But not as “Tim Relf“. He’ll be known as TR Richmond, instead.

A social media post…card

Some months ago, I received a postcard from Tim, promoting his new novel, which has its roots deep in the idea of the social media shadow we leave on the world. On that card he thanked me for being one of the people who started him on his journey into that world, back in my days as RBI’s blogmeister. At the time I failed to realise quite how significant that book was becoming:

The unusual concept caught the attention of Penguin who bought the book and subsequently sold it in 16 countries worldwide, in a deal that has netted the publisher and author £800,000.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has been lined up to voice protagonist Alice Salmon in the audiobook. Fellow GoT star Charles Dance is providing the voice of Professor Cooke – an ageing anthropology professor fixated on solving the mystery of his former student’s death.

Hang on. Go back a paragraph.


Bloody hell, “TR”, you owe me a beer, mate. And not in a Sutton pub, either.

Why you should read What She Left

There’s a pretty good chance that, if you’re reading this, you’re interested in the dynamics and psychology of the new world of publishing we’ve built for ourselves on the web – this strange liminal space that exists between old fashioned publishing and chatting with your mates down the pub. A place for casual conversation that becomes a permanent record.

The book takes that idea to its logical extreme, and explores how a dead girl’s life and secrets can be uncovered from her web shadow. It’s a rich seam for thought, one that’s been explored by one friend in a professional sense, and now by another as fiction. I’ve bagged myself a copy, and I’ll review it here once I’ve finished it.

As for Tim, has it change his life? Well…

Relf, who lives in Carshalton, south London, with his wife, Isabel, and their two cats, plans to continue working at Farmers Weekly, which sells about 60,000 copies. “I really enjoy it. I’m fascinated by the countryside, food and farming,” he said.

Probably a relief for my ex-boss, who is now Tim’s boss. But I guess Tim won’t be guest posting for me any more…

What She Left is available as a hardback, on Kindle and on iBooks.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.